In a move that shows the public’s malaise over the technocrats in Strasbourg, the European Parliament is subsidizing journalists so that their actions aren’t completely ignored. The Parliament, which travels to Strasbourg once a month from Brussels, covers the travel, lodging and entertainment costs of journalists so that they follow the body to their Alsatian home.
Television journalists also receive access to free equipment.
One journalist commented that if it weren’t for the Parliament’s money, he would never get coverage of the body’s functions on air.
Although from this report it looks like the Parliament is just looking for attention, subsidizing journalists does raise concern of propaganda, especially while several MEP’s are suspected of accepting kickbacks and the Bush administration and the Pentagon across the Atlantic are accused of manipulating the press at home and in Iraq.
Source: International Herald Tribune
EU defends aid to help media coverage
The EU defends its aid to journalists to help media coverage after their actions were attacked by anti-corruption campaigners. Issues of press freedom are central to the debate in a system that pays expenses to around 60 journalists to attend the plenary sessions between the two EU homes in Strasbourg, France and Brussels.
Payments have previously been available to journalists from EU countries to cover travel between Strasbourg and their home EU country, either by first class train or economy class air fare, said a parliament spokesman, Jaime Duch.
In addition they receive a 100 euro daily stipend to cover their hotel and meal expenses during a two-day stay in Strasbourg, he said, confirming a story in the International Herald Tribune.
Abuse of generous travel and other allowances is also a key concern as journalists, MEPs, and officials, regularly travel up and down from Brussels to Strasbourg for one week every month.
Durch denies that the “aid amounted to bribery to provide good coverage,” saying there “was no interference in coverage and stressing that it was aimed at funding journalists who would otherwise not travel to Strasbourg,” said EUBusiness.com.
“Decisions made in Brussels and Strasbourg are relevant to people in (EU) member states. It’s logical and justified that citizens should be informed about what goes on here,” said the EU commission spokesman.
While it may help poorer or regional press outlets get information to publish, the funds may be abused. Those afraid of the loss of objectivity and journalists’ opinions being swayed by bribes or these payments should question the ethics of the journalist and perhaps not the EU.